Government may give financial assistance to sugar mills: Thomas

K-V-ThomasNew Delhi, Nov 28 : The government is likely to offer financial assistance and other support to sugar mills to overcome the crisis over crushing and pay higher prices to sugarcane farmers, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution K. V. Thomas said Thursday.

Talking to reporters here, Thomas said the central government is willing to consider all possible assistance to sugar mills so that cane crushing could start as soon as possible.

“The central government is willing to consider all possible the steps its to help the sugarcane farmers and the sugar industry,” Thomas said.

“Delay in sugar cane harvesting and crushing by the mills affects both of them as these operations are already delayed. I, therefore, appeal to all the cane farmers to cooperate with the respective state governments and start supplying sugarcane to the sugar mills,” the minister said.

Private mills in Uttar Pradesh have refused to start sugarcane crushing, saying it is not economically viable.

The industry is demanding an increase in import duty, interest-free loans for mills, subsidies for exports and creation of buffer stocks to help sugar mills.

Thomas said a ministerial group setup by the government would look into the problems being faced by the sugar Industry and soon submit its report.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has constituted an informal group of ministers under Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to look into the issue affecting the sugar industry. Other members of the group include Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh and Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily. (IANS)